When was the last time you checked your home insurance policy – and do you know if you’re properly covered for the festive period? Getting on the phone now could avoid a nasty shock when you come to claim later…
A couple of years ago, I lived in a second floor flat in an Edwardian conversion. Just before Christmas, the girl in the flat below mine left an electric lamp leaning against the curtains in her bedroom. The hot bulb set fire to the curtains, and the curtains set fire to the bed.
Mercifully she wasn’t in the bed at the time – and the fire brigade turned up within minutes. No one was hurt, but the fire (combined with the water damage) destroyed everything in her bedroom.
In the meantime, the rest of us were evacuated in our pyjamas. And the acrid, choking black smoke that snaked up the communal stairs caused extensive damage in the top floor apartment – whose owner had left the door open as she escaped.
Do we really need home insurance?
This experience is one of the reasons why I think having home insurance is so important. I know a couple of people who don’t think they need it, because they’ve got really good home security (to guard against burglars). But you can never protect your home against every eventuality – however responsible you are, someone else’s actions could put your belongings at risk.
The festive season brings with it some extra home insurance pitfalls to avoid. For example, the total value of your home’s contents is likely to rise around Christmas, when expensive presents are given and received, decorations are bought and freezers are stocked.
So it’s worth considering your contents insurance fully covers this extra seasonal value, or your insurer could refuse to pay a claim in full.
Be savvy about sneaky clauses
It’s also crucial you don’t get caught out by a sneaky clause in your home insurance policy, covering extended absence. In a nutshell, most policies state that cover will become invalid if a home is left unoccupied for a certain period of time.
Some insurers define ‘extended absence’ as being as little as two weeks – so make sure you check the terms and conditions on your policy before you zoom off to visit relatives this year.
I’m sure most of us have encountered festive domestic disasters at one time or another. One memorable Christmas Day in our household involved the fridge door falling off, the oven breaking down and the downstairs toilet backing up. Nice.
Have you had reason to claim on your contents insurance over Christmas? Or perhaps I haven’t convinced you that you even need home insurance?